The Netherlands and Japan Strengthen Relations Through Sport at a Wheelchair Basketball Event Held as Part of the Sport for Tomorrow Programme

16 Dec 2015

News Release

As part of the Sport for Tomorrow programme, a Wheelchair Basketball Experience event was held on 9 November 2015 to mark the official visit to Japan of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands His Excellency Mark Rutte. The event was hosted jointly by the Japanese Paralympic Committee and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan at the Shiba Junior & Senior High School, in Tokyo’s Minato ward. Players from both the Dutch and Japanese national teams taught 30 children the basic techniques of the sport and the children then had the opportunity to try it out for themselves.

Japanese Wheelchair Basketball players, Kiyoshi Fujisawa and Wataru Horie, and Dutch national team members, Marc van de Kuilen and Mustafa Korkmaz with team manager Toine Klerks first demonstrated how to pass basketballs and shoot baskets from a wheelchair to 30
elementary and junior high school children, 15 each from Japan and Netherlands. The children then played a match with these players and experienced the excitement of the sport firsthand.
The players also played a 2x2 match, and the watching children were amazed to see the skills and intensity of Wheelchair Basketball.

Under the theme “Japan and the Netherlands Connecting through Sports,” the aim of the event was to send the message that sport fosters health, social unity and self-esteem. It also highlighted how anyone can enjoy the benefits of sport regardless of physical impairment. Also in attendance were Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Japan, Radinck Jan van Vollenhoven, Japanese Paralympic Committee President Mitsunori Torihara, Japan Sports Agency Commissioner Daichi Suzuki, and Governor of Tokyo Yoichi Masuzoe.

The event was co-hosted by the Japanese Paralympic Committee and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan, with the cooperation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Sports Association for the Disabled, and the Japan Wheelchair Basketball Federation. It was also supported by the Dutch national government, which is promoting the enhancement of sporting ties between the Netherlands and Japan. The event has been recognised as an initiative of the Sport for Tomorrow programme, a Japanese government-initiated promotion for international cooperation through sport. The Sport for Tomorrow Consortium coordinated public and private sector member organisations to identify the best way for them to collaborate to ensure the event served as a valuable opportunity to promote the power of sport.

Sport provides a wonderful outlet for persons with an impairment to become more engaged in social activities, and pioneers the way towards a fully inclusive society. Recognising these benefits, the consortium is working to effectively demonstrate the power of sport to act as a force for good through the Sport for Tomorrow programme. Kiyoshi Fujisawa, a member of the Japanese team at the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation Asia Oceania Championships, was delighted with the opportunity the event offered to the children: “It was fantastic to see children from different countries interact and get to know each other through Wheelchair Basketball. This kind of event really shows the true value of sport.”